A new poll out Tuesday holds more bad news for Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.) 2012 prospects.
Numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm show Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would easily defeat Ensign in a Republican primary if the senator opted to seek reelection.
Heller leads Ensign 52 percent to 34 percent in a hypothetical 2012 primary match up. That's a sea change from just three months ago when PPP measured a lead for Ensign over Heller in a potential primary, 45 percent to 37 percent.
The poll also found Heller to be the top choice for 2012 among Republican primary voters in Nevada. Given a choice between seven potential candidates, 30 percent of Nevada Republicans wanted Heller as the nominee, compared to just 20 percent who wanted Ensign. Ensign has not yet announced whether he will seek another term in 2012, but many observers doubt he will run again.
Following Heller and Ensign were Sue Lowden with 12 percent and Danny Tarkanian with 10 percent. Both Republicans ran for the nomination to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in 2010 and lost. Just 9 percent of Nevada Republicans said 2010 Senate nominee Sharron Angle would be their pick to run in 2012.
The poll surveyed 400 GOP primary voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.9 percentage points.
A PPP poll from last week showed Ensign trailing every potential Democratic opponent, including Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), in hypothetical 2012 matchups. The same poll showed Heller defeating every rumored Democratic candidate.
Berkley, meanwhile, said Monday she won't announce her 2012 intentions until late spring or early summer. In an interview with The Las Vega Sun's Jon Ralston, Berkley said of last week's poll, "I took it to heart. I saw where the numbers were and before I make a decision, I have to find a path to victory. If I can find that path to victory, I'm all in."